2015 events

Book launch: Melissa

Friday 4 December, 5.30pm-7.30pm at the University bookshop
This was the Leicester launch of Jonathan Taylor’s second novel, Melissa, published by Salt in Autumn 2015. The novel is set on a small street in Stoke-on-Trent where, in June 1999, a young girl dies of leukaemia. Immediately afterwards, everyone on the street experiences the same musical hallucination. The novel is about that hallucination, and its aftermath, as the family of the girl disintegrates in the wake of a terrible loss.

Does it Make A Difference if a Writer is Male or Female?

Friday 13 November, 1.15-2.45pm in Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester
A panel discussion held with leading YA author, Lisa Williamson (The Art of Being Normal), senior editor at Myriad Editions, Vicky Blunden, local author Bali Rai, and local young readers. This open event was held in partnership with schools' literacy charity Whatever it Takes.

Kim Moore talk and reading

Thursday 12 November, 12.00-1.00pm in Lecture Theatre 10, Bennett Building, University of Leicester
As part of our Teaching Enhancement Fund activities, poet Kim Moore gave a talk and reading from her work to the Centre. Moore is an award-winning writer whose first full-length collection, The Art of Falling, was published by Seren in April 2015.

Linton Kwesi Johnson and Caryl Phillips in Conversation

Thursday 12 November, 6.30-7.30pm in Peter Williams Lecture Theatre, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester
Two of the country’s leading writers, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Caryl Philips, were in conversation. Old friends, they discussed their lives in writing, the important role which writing of all kinds can play in an ever-changing world, and many other topics. The dynamic and enjoyable discussion was chaired by distinguished Professor John McLeod. Multi-award winning Kittitian-British novelist Caryl Philips’ tenth novel, The Lost Child, was published in April 2015. Jamaican-born Linton Kwesi Johnson is among this country’s best-loved performance poets.

Literary Salon: Unlearning Childhoods with novelists Caryl Phillips and Elleke Boehmer

Thursday 12 November, 3.30-4.30pm at Attenborough Arts Centre
Renowned authors Caryl Phillips and Elleke Boehmer read from their new novels, and discussed how they evoked troubled childhoods, race, and the buried, unspoken violence of history. Philips’ The Lost Child (‘complex and compelling’, Independent) investigates Northern England’s slavery connections, reimagining the figure of Heathcliff. Boehmer’s sixth novel, The Shouting in the Dark (described by J M Coetzee as ‘disturbing as it is enthralling’), tells of a girl's struggle against her father's oppression while searching for a secure footing amidst the moral chaos of apartheid South Africa.

Raving Beauties: Hooray for 50 Foot Women

Wednesday 11 November, 8.00-9.00pm at Attenborough Arts Centre
Raving Beauties, the celebrated women’s theatre company, performed poetry from their edited collection of the country’s leading female poets, writing on women’s relationships with their bodies. Raucous, rude, open and fun. 'In their performances and anthologies Raving Beauties have done a great service to women writers' (Guardian).

Writing Women in the Midlands: Workshop

Wednesday 11 November, 3.30pm at Leicestershire Records Office, Wigston Magna, Leicester
Attendees learned to turn historical material into creative work in this writers’ workshop led by Deborah Tyler Bennett, winner of the Centre for New Writing’s creative commission ‘Women’s Writing in the Midlands’. The workshop used archival materials by and about Elizabeth Heyrick and Susanna Watts, two 19th century Leicestershire authors, abolitionists and political and animal rights activists.

Jamie Mollart: A Reading and Conversation with Henderson Mullin

Wednesday 11 November, 12.00-1.00pm at Attenborough Arts Centre
Jamie Mollart’s debut novel, The Zoo, is described by Alison Moore as a ‘grippingly dark and…moving story about exploitation, destruction and the possibility of redemption.’ Jamie and Writing East Midlands’ director Henderson Mullin discussed the book’s themes, including consumerism, global banking and the mining of 'Blood Minerals.'

Kim Slater reading and talk

Monday 9 November, 2.00-3.00pm in Lecture Theatre 3, Attenborough Building, University of Leicester
Young adult fiction writer Kim Slater, author of the award-winning novel Smart, gave a reading and talk which was free and open to all.

Jacob Ross reading 

Monday 2 November, 5.30-6.30pm in Seminar Room 206, Attenborough Building, University of Leicester
Author and tutor Jacob Ross, part of the judging panel for the V S Pritchett Memorial Prize, read from his recent work.

Jacob Ross workshop

Monday 2 November, 2.00-5.00pm in Seminar Room L17, Fielding Johnson Building, University of Leicester
This class explored the defining features of the modern short story. Participants looked at the basic types of short narratives by examining the work of leading exponents of the craft.

Mark Goodwin: Playing with poetry and sound

Monday 12 October, 2.00-5.00pm in Archaeology and Ancient History Ground Floor Seminar Room SR1, University of Leicester

A collaborative experimental workshop for those interested in playing with ‘poetry and other sounds’. Participants joined Mark Goodwin to discover and experience ways of placing words – spoken and written – alongside our world’s sonic textures.

Mark Goodwin: Generating poetry and playing with words

Monday 5 October, 2.00-5.00pm in Seminar Room 202, Attenborough Building, University of Leicester
A creative expedition into landscapes where worldly things, emotions and words meet.

Susanna Watts and Elizabeth Heyrick

Saturday 26 September at Attenborough Arts Centre
An inaugural reading and talk about new writing commissioned by the Centre for New Writing about two 19th century Leicester campaigners, Susanna Watts and Elizabeth Heyrick. As outspoken advocates for the campaign to end slavery, they played an active role in swaying public opinion in campaigns. On a local level, they worked and wrote together within their community for the rights of workers in the hosiery industry and prisoners, as well as the poor and aged. Individually, they also produced many literary works, including the first guidebook for Leicester.

Centre for New Writing delivers travel writing workshop

The Centre for New Writing delivered a travel writing workshop in Totnes, Devon. The event produced some wonderful writing and was covered in the local press.

Superheroes of Slam East Midlands Heat

Thursday 17 September, 6.00-10.30pm at Attenborough Arts Centre
Dare to Diva company and director Carol Leeming FRSA in partnership with Commonword in Manchester and in association with the University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing. The internationally-acclaimed performer Rob Gee was our compere for the night. Participants had just three minutes to perform on the mic to impress an audience and the judges with their lyrical poetical skills. The winner went on to the final, part of Manchester Literature Festival, as well as receiving a £250 prize and a place on an Arvon course of their choice in 2016.

Why don't you? PechaKucha networking event

Wednesday 1 July, 6.00-8.00pm at LCB Depot, Rutland Street, Leicester
It’s all about finding new ways to collaborate with new people. Following the success of our previous PechaKucha networking events, we were back with 20 images in six minutes presented by a host of inspirational creatives. Dr Corinne Fowler, Director of the Centre for New Writing, was amongst the speakers at this event.

Masterclass on developing your performance skills

Saturday 27 June in Diana, Princess of Wales Hall, Attenborough Arts Centre
This masterclass offered insights on what makes a good performance and how to develop your performance and presentation skills, whether you perform regularly, speak publicly in a work or creative context, or simply wish to be a more confident or engaging speaker or presenter of your ideas and interests. It offered tips on voice, body and movement, and ways that you can engage an audience and make more of an impact. The tutors, Mark Gwynne Jones and Mamta Sagar, offered many years of experience in presenting their work, performing at festivals, and enticing audiences to see and appreciate performance in new ways, in both intimate and large-scale settings.

After running the masterclass of 60 minutes, Mark Gwynne Jones and Mamta Sagar offered a taster performance of their new collaborative show, Melding Voices, which is touring around England until July and presents some of the performance skills, and engaging an audience that will have been covered in the masterclass as well as an entertaining show of poetry, spoken word and multiple languages. This event was supported by The University of Leicester and is presented by The Centre for New Writing in association with Renaissance One. It is part of a tour funded by Arts Council England.

Story Games with Polly Tuckett

Friday 26 June, 2.00-4.00pm in Lecture Theatre 3, Attenborough Building, University of Leicester
Where do our stories come from? How do we start to build an idea, a world, characters, voices… that are perfect for the short form? In this two-hour workshop, Polly Tuckett used game strategies and play to tease out the stories we want to write, and to help us bring them to life. In association with Writing School East Midlands.

Masterclass: the art of short story writing

Friday 26 June, 10.00am-1.00pm in Lecture Theatre 3, Attenborough Building, University of Leicester
In this masterclass, renowned short story writer and novelist Jacob Ross taught attendees how to develop their short story voice. He spoke on what makes a good short story and the techniques you can employ to fine-tune and develop your own creations. This was part one of a two-part masterclass with Jacob Ross offered in association with the University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing.

Leicester Writes development in Leicestershire - where do we go from here?

Thursday 25 June, 4.30-6.00pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Ken Edwards Building, University of Leicester
In association with the Centre for New Writing, Leicester Writes hosted a PechaKucha-style event at which we discussed our collective ambitions for literary development in Leicestershire. We invited anyone who is engaged with Leicester's writing scene to join this conversation. What are our ambitions for literary development in Leicester? What have we got? How can we collaborate most effectively? What do we need? What are our ambitions for literary development in Leicester? How can we achieve them?

The Annual Creative Writing Lecture: Edna O'Brien

Thursday 7 May, 6.00-7.30pm in Rattray Lecture Theatre, University of Leicester
Since her debut novel The Country Girls, Edna O'Brien has written over twenty works of fiction. Her other novels include A Pagan Place (1970), winner of the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year Award; Zee & Co, filmed as X, Y & Zee starring Elizabeth Taylor; Johnny I Hardly Knew You (1977), and, more recently, Time and Tide (1992), winner of a Writers' Guild Award (Best Fiction). She is also the author of a trilogy of novels about modern Ireland: House of Splendid Isolation (1994), Down by the River (1996), and Wild Decembers (1999), recently filmed by RTĒ. She has received several literary awards, among them the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (Fiction) in 1990 for her short story collection Lantern Slides.

Other collections include The Love Object (1968), Mrs Reinhardt and Other Stories (1978) and A Scandalous Woman (1974). She also wrote Mother Ireland (1976), a travelogue with photographs by Fergus Bourke, and a biography of James Joyce, published in 1999. She is also the author of several plays including Virginia (1981), based on the life and writings of Virginia Woolf. Edna O'Brien's most recent books are the novel The Light of Evening (2006) and Byron in Love (2009). She is a member of Aosdána, an Irish organisation founded to promote the arts, and adjunct professor of English Literature at University College, Dublin. She is also an honorary member of the American Academy of Letters.

Oceans of History: A Fiction Workshop

Saturday 25 April, 10.00am-4.00pm in Sackler Rooms, British Museum
Historians understand a great deal about Indian Ocean trade networks but know far less about the people who were involved. During this workshop, Corinne Fowler and Harry Whitehead (from the centre) and Dr Sarah Longhair (the curator of an exhibition about Indian Ocean Trade) investigated museum objects and used them to imagine the lives of sailors, merchants, farmers and thieves. They explored deals won and lost, shipwrecks, monsoons, and much more. Uniting writing craft with rigorous research techniques, they practised developing authentic, satisfying historical fiction.

Book launch: Hidden Stories

Thursday 31 March, 6.30-7.30pm at the Phoenix, Leicester
An illustrated book of creative writing commissions edited by Corinne Fowler to accompany the Hidden Stories app. With readings from the commissioned writers and a film poem by Mark Goodwin.

Jonathan Davidson: The professional writing life

Monday 23 March, 4.00-5.00pm in George Porter LRC, University of Leicester
Jonathan Davidson is an author, poet, Chief Executive of Writing West Midlands, Director of Midland Creative Projects and joint founder and Associate Director of Birmingham Literature Festival. He spoke about the professional writing life, publishing, and working in the literature world.

Nii Parkes reads from his work

Monday 16 March, 5.00-6.30pm in Lecture Theatre 3, Ken Edwards Building, University of Leicester
Nii Ayikwei Parkes is a writer, editor, socio-cultural commentator and performance poet. Nii's debut novel Tail of the Blue Bird was shortlisted for the 2010 Commonwealth Prize and his work has been translated into multiple languages. His latest books of poetry are the Michael Marks Award-shortlisted pamphlet, ballast: a remix (2009) and The Makings of You (Peepal Tree Press). Listen to Nii Parkes' reading.

Library foyer: Retyping Lucky Jim

Saturday 7 - Saturday 14 March in the Library foyer
Tim Youd is an LA-based artist, who was engaged in a multi-year cycle of retyping 100 novels. Youd retyped the works on one sheet of paper run repeatedly through a typewriter of the same model used to write the original work, in a location related to the novel. For this project, Youd was inspired by Kingsley Amis' visit to Philip Larkin, then an assistant librarian at the University of Leicester. It was this visit that sparked the idea to write Lucky Jim, Amis' classic comic novel about a young lecturer at a Midlands red-brick university.

Lancaster University - honorary degree for SuAndi

Wednesday 4 March at Lancaster University
Honorary Creative Writing Fellow SuAndi was awarded an honorary degree from Lancaster University for her outstanding contribution to British art. On receiving the honour, SuAndi said: “This honorary degree illustrates that Lancaster University values voices outside of academia and for me, as a self-taught poet and writer, it is my Oscar.”

Melanie Abrahams: Careers in Literature and Publishing

Monday 2 March, 2.00-3.00pm in Lecture Theatre 1, Bennett Building, University of Leicester
Guest lecture by Melanie Abrahams, founder and creative director of Tilt and Renaissance One. The lecture gave an insight into the range of career options in the literature sector, with an emphasis on the newer roles that artists and arts professionals are shaping to reflect the contemporary literature ecology.

Blake Morrison: A Writer's Talk

Tuesday 24 February
Yorkshire-born poet and author Blake Morrison is best known for his memoir, And When Did You Last See Your Father?, which was made into a film starring Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth in 2007. Morrison is also the author of a variety of fiction and non-fiction books, as well as plays, libretti and television writing. Having started his career as a journalist, he contributes regularly to The Guardian. Since 2003 he has been Professor of Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College. Listen to Blake Morrison's talk.

Desiree Reynolds reads from her work

Monday 23 February
Desiree Reynolds started her writing career as a freelance journalist for the Jamaica Gleaner. She is a broadcaster, creative writing workshop facilitator and mentor. She has had several short stories published in various publications. Desiree is inspired by internal landscapes and collective memory. Seduce is her first novel and is published by Peepal Tree Press. Listen to Desiree Reynolds' reading.

Dr Victoria Whitworth on historical fiction

Friday 20 February
Victoria Whitworth is an academic and novelist (under the name V M Whitworth). She is an expert in medieval history, a specialism reflected in her thrillers set in the 10th century. Her latest book is The Traitor's Pit in which the hero visits medieval Leicester.

Lawrence Scott

Monday 9 February
Lawrence Scott is a prize-winning Caribbean novelist and short-story writer from Trinidad & Tobago. His work has stimulated critical work into the post-colonial novel’s use of magic-realism, carnival, calypso, her/history, storytelling, dialect/standard narratives, identity, landscape, the body, race, religion and homo/sexuality. Listen on our Soundcloud:

Jo Baker reads from her work

Monday 2 February, 5.00-6.30pm in Lecture Theatre 3, Attenborough Building, University of Leicester
Jo Baker was born in Lancashire. She was educated at Oxford and at Queen's University, Belfast, where she completed a PhD on the work of the Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen. Her first novel, Offcomer, was published by William Heinemann in 2001. She has also written for BBC Radio 4, and her short stories have been included in a number of anthologies. From 2001 to 2003 she was the Artistic Director of the Belfast Literary Festival. She lives in Belfast. Her latest book is Longbourn, which retells the events of Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of the servants. Listen to Jo Baker's reading.

Dr Jonathan Taylor

Thursday 22 January, 7.30pm at the Armenian Institute, Armenian House, London
Jonathan Taylor read from and talked about his novel, Entertaining Strangers (Salt, 2012). In particular, he read passages which flash back to the 1922 Great Fire of Smyrna, which forms the traumatic pre-history of the novel's main storyline. These climactic passages are told from the perspective of one Armenian girl, swept up by the historical upheaval around her.

Shindig! open mic night

Monday 19 January, 7.30pm at The Western, Leicester
With Dorothy Lehane, Andrew Duncan and writers from the Ruthless Minds anthology.